Despite completing four weeks of OTAs and mini-camp practices, several things remain unsettled for the Cowboys. When the team reports to training camp on July 28 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions still need answers.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp.
Today, the staff continues the series with a bold prediction about the coming season. Everyone knows who the Cowboys' Pro Bowlers are, but who will join that club this season? Important names like Travis Frederick and Zack Martin joined the list last year.
Who makes the jump to the Pro Bowl in 2015?
15) Which Cowboys Player Will Make His First Pro Bowl In 2015?
David Helman: I feel uneasy saying so, because his issues with injuries are well-documented, but I think this could be the breakthrough year for Sean Lee. It seems like ancient history, considering he sat out the entire 2014 season, but we're all well aware of the type of playmaker he can be. The last time Lee was healthy, he was leading the NFL in tackles and interceptions at about the halfway point of the 2013 season. He's averaging 6.1 tackles per contest, despite appearing in just 46 of 82 possible games with the Cowboys. As has been discussed, the coaching staff is planning to move him to the weak side of the formation this year, which should hopefully limit him from extra contact and protect him from second-level blocks. If he's healthy enough to play in 13 or more games, I don't think there's any doubt he's Pro Bowl-caliber. The biggest question is his health, and I think the position switch should help with that.
Nick Eatman: Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to show the league you're more than just a good player. Orlando Scandrick has been a good player for most of his career, but he's beyond that now. Last year he was really good – arguably the best player on the defense – despite missing the first two games due to a suspension. That setback made him ineligible for the Pro Bowl, although it's unlikely he would've made it last year. But if he has another year in which he shadows the best receivers, limits some of the greatest players to average games at best, and perhaps increases the interception total up a few more, Scandrick should have a good chance to make the Pro Bowl. Getting picks is the key, and doing them at opportune times is even better. If the pass rush improves like it should, the interceptions will increase and that could be all Scandrick needs.
Bryan Broaddus: If you are going to go, you might as well go all in -- Darren McFadden will make his first Pro Bowl in 2015. My reasoning is pretty simple: he is the most talented back on the roster and when I mean talented, he is the most complete. When it comes to running, receiving and blocking, McFadden will become the best option for Scott Linehan as a play-caller, much like DeMarco Murray was last season. Once Linehan figured out what he had in Murray, he never took him off the field, and I believe that he will do the same with McFadden. McFadden will gain Linehan's trust and he will tailor the offense to showcase those talents and he will flourish in those opportunities. Look for McFadden to play with a chip on his shoulder and prove to those around the league that in the right situation he can be a difference maker instead of a disappointment.
Rob Phillips: Of all the Pro Bowl-caliber players on the roster, Dan Bailey's probably the most due. Midway through last season he became statistically the most accurate kicker of all time, meaning at this point in his four-year career he's one of the league's best ever. He'll be challenged a little more by the new extra point rule, which could jeopardize his perfect career conversion rate. But he's got the right mindset to remain a consistent kicker, and he benefits from playing a lot of his games indoors. Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee are good candidates, but I'll go with Bailey.